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BILLERICAY is swiftly emerging as one of Essex’s top sporting hubs following an agreement between four of the areas biggest clubs to work in unison, providing exciting opportunities for the community.
Billericay Town Football Club, along with the town’s successful cricket, golf and tennis organisations are set to support each other, encouraging their respective members to enjoy each other’s sports and facilities in a safe and friendly environment.
The Blues New Lodge ground has undergone a remarkable makeover, most recently with the installation of an impressive new 3G playing surface. But, despite sport facing suspension throughout lockdown, Town co-owner, Greg Lake, explained to #YellowSport how the lack of activity brought about a different way of thinking which will be hugely beneficial.
“What we’ve been trying to do since we took over Billericay Town is to be more of a community club,” Mr Lake enthused.
“The work on the pitches will bring together more of the 50 teams we have, allowing them to play at base-New Lodge. This has been a part of that, as has the charity work we have been involved in during lockdown for the food bank.
“But we wanted to do more. We started to think that we have some sporting neighbours here. Conversations initially started with the cricket club, followed by the golf club, and more recently, the tennis club.
“We spoke about working together. It doesn’t mean we are joining forces – we will all carry on in our own independent right – but in terms of ensuring we don’t compete and are all serving the same Billericay area and community, there was a realisation that there was a lot we could do together.”
Mr Lake continued: “Of course, some of that is for our benefit, particularly the security angle along with the cricket and tennis club. There have been numerous incidents affecting all thee clubs over the last year or so. Indeed, for sports clubs across the UK, it has been a problem – break-ins, car vandalism and anti-social behaviour. Working together on things like that, pulling resources, staffing and publicising our social events makes sense to us.
“But also from the community perspective, we work together as four sports clubs serving a community then we can achieve more. We all jointly support our respective charities, charity work and donations. We can maximise that doing things together, encouraging followers, members and supporters of all four organisations to join that effort.
“We have probably been talking for around five or six weeks and that has now come into fruition. There were no obstacles – all four parties were very keen to get it moving.”
Mr Lake insisted early indications suggested the move has been well-received, adding: “A lot of our fans take part in those other three sports – some are members of those clubs.
“Nicky Hayes, a member of our busy media team, has been doing the photography for the cricket club and using the hashtag #BillericaySportsHub on our social media outlets – The initial reaction from the fans that we have started to work together has been very positive.
“There are offerings that we can all make. For example, the football club could invite people connected with cricket, golf and tennis to come down to watch games at New Lodge.
“But equally, I think there will be opportunities in all directions as we work together, maximise opportunities and expand on what we do for the Billericay community.
“Four neighbours all in the sporting arena, pulling together, has got to be a good move. I think in the future, a lot more clubs will try to do similar community collaborations in their areas.”